As the husband needed to be dropped at the airport on Saturday, a ride on Saturday of any decent length was not going to happen. Fortunately, the Worst Day of the Year Ride was on Sunday, Seattle friend Eric was coming down to ride it, and local friend Diane K was looking for company as well.
I didn't figure that I'd actually RIDE with Eric, but we'd at least meet up somewhere along the route.
Weather was to be 40's to 50's, rain starting later in the day. Sleeveless wool baselayer, Luna silk/wool jersey (that fabric feels WONDERFUL), Showers Pass Elite 2.0 jacket, Smartwool shorts, Sugoi Firewall tights, wool socks, PI shoes w/Sugoi Firewall booties over them, old PI AmFib gloves. Extra gloves, and the Shebeest loose capris and Team Bag Balm windvest, if I got too warm.
Bicycle was Sweetpea.
The ride was to depart from the Lucky Lab on SE Hawthorne at 9am (the Challenge Route. Which one did you think I'd be riding? :-) ), so I was on the road at 7:40am. I wanted to get there for the pre-ride donuts and coffee. Not that I didn't have breakfast at home, first.
Found Diane when I arrived; she already had her donut in hand, and pointed me to the source. Called Eric; he wasn't planning to start until later.
We were off shortly after 9am (started in waves), wandered around a bit, got on the Esplanade, across the Steel Bridge, and finally on some less-crowded roadway heading north on Naito. The REI stop did not disappoint - Dragonfly Chai. I had two cups. Next time, I'll plan on an empty thermal bottle and fill it up :-) Then over the hill. First the climb through Washington Park (changed out the jacket for the vest, and switched to shortfinger gloves), over Sylvan Hill, down, and I'm on my commute to work.
Uneventful ride west. Many riders who are incapable of saying "on your left". Diane was getting hungry; fortunately we were almost at the Hillsboro REI. Eric called; they elected to do the urban route, so he could take pictures. We'd try to meet up at the finish.
My bicycle had a serious admirer. After some of that, we went to find food - pbj sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, Larabars. Pretzels. Only beverages were water and Heed. I didn't need anything, so passed on that.
A bit more riding west, then we turned east, for the more interesting climb of the day. Old Germantown. I've ridden it many times, but not in the past 2 or 3 years. I will say I was pleased with my ascent - no stopping, and even passed some people. I did not realize it was mostly 8-9%. Then on to the very top, zipped everything up, and headed down. Diane: "won't you be cold?" No.
NW Germantown was very clean and smooth, but also steep. I had been warned about the hairpins, so had no problems.
Got to the St Johns Bridge, and suggested to the riders shoaled up at the light that we'd all be much safer if we just took a whole lane (4 lane bridge). And so we did, and it was way fun! Much nicer than the return during the November permanent! After getting through St Johns, I had it in my head that we were somewhat closer to the Community Cycling Center than we really were. Once we popped out onto Willamette Drive, I figured that out.
Peeve: cyclists who pass then slow down because they don't know where they are going.
The Team Bag Balm windvest got lots of attention - clearly TBB has not been representing at events recently!
Got to the Community Cycling Center - hot chocolate and cookies. Lots of cookies. While I realize that it is the midpoint stop for the 18 mile urban route, and they get fed every 3 or 4 miles, the CCC is the first stop after 20+ miles of riding with a stiff climb in the middle for the challenge route riders. Something more substantial than cookies would not be a bad idea. Note to self: score an extra pbj from the REI stop for later.
So, anyway, 5 cookies later, Diane and I set out for the last 10 miles. Mindless east side riding; after following Cecil around, I'm getting better at knowing where I am. As we were back on the urban route, lots of slower riders. Lots of them. We'd filter up to the front at lights and then take off :-) We elected to give the Bike Gallery stop a pass; we wanted to finish by now.
Oh... Riding through NE PDX, I sat up and rode no hands! I've been trying to get where I could ride no hands on Sweetpea since last August, and might have finally succeeded! Wonderful! I can now snack with impunity on long rides!
Eric called - he was at the finish; I thought we'd be there in about 20 minutes, tops. Sure enough. Found him there; Diane and I got our soup and cheese bread and joined him and his friend Mike on the curb. He was worried about the fine accommodations. I reminded him that people who drink beer out of paper bags in WalMart parking lots weren't picky :-)
We talked a bit about randonneuring. Eric: "but you are a real randonneur". Me: "For $20 a year, you can be one too".
We saw Slug; he came over to say hi. Not that he was on the ride, he was just visiting. As always, I usually run into him any time I ride on the east side :-) More visiting. Eric took pictures. Diane was getting chilled, so she took off. Then it started to drizzle with some degree of intensity. I pulled on my jacket, said my good-byes, and headed on home. Took the jacket OFF before the climb, and didn't bother to put it back on, even when the drizzle got more insistent. It just wasn't quite that cold. Noticed that the camellias were starting to bloom in Washington Park - spring is on the way!
In all, 63 miles, 5000 vertical feet.